Deal Me In – Week 49 Wrap Up

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The cards in our short story decks are dwindling like the remaining days of 2014. Here are links to new posts since the last update:

Randall read the Ray Bradbury classic “The Illustrated Man“; see his thoughts at http://timeenuf.blogspot.com/2014/12/the-illustrated-man-by-ray-bradbury.html

Dale waited until winter to draw the five of diamonds for Bernard Malamud’s “A Summer’s Readinghttp://mirrorwithclouds.wordpress.com/2014/12/04/bernard-malamud-a-summers-reading/

Katherine also read a classic, “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” by Ambrose Bierce. http://katenread.wordpress.com/2014/12/06/deal-me-in-week-49-an-occurrence-at-owl-creek-bridge/

I read Edith Wharton’s “The Eyes” scroll down to my prior post to see. 🙂

That’s it for this week! Three weeks to go before it’ll be time to shuffle up and deal again…

Below: actor Rod Steiger portrayed “The Illustrated Man” on film. (Don’t EVER call them Tattoos!)

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“The Eyes” by Edith Wharton

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Week 49 of my 2015 Deal Me In Short Story Reading Challenge led me to a ghost story by Edith Wharton. I drew the five of spades, which I had assigned to this story. Spoilers follow, so if you’d like to read this story before reading this post, you may find it at: http://storyoftheweek.loa.org/2012/01/eyes.html.

At its beginning the story is very atmospheric. A group of “men of leisure” are winding down an evening, and a proposal is made that each share a “personal” ghost story with the group. They proceed until only the host, Andrew Culwin, remains as one who hasn’t yet told a story. Of course he has one (we don’t hear any details of the others’ stories so he’d better!).

Culwin claims he was twice beset by a ghost. A ghost which manifests itself as a pair of red, menacing eyes at the foot of his bed. The ghost itself was not particularly compelling to me, but Culwin’s stories of the events leading up to its appearances were. In the first case, a youthful Culwin is visiting a wealthy aunt and working on a book, when he finds an assistant in his efforts, his cousin Alice Nowell:

“The cousin was a nice girl, and I had an idea that a nice girl was just what I needed to restore my faith in human nature, and principally in myself. She was neither beautiful nor intelligent—poor Alice Nowell!—but it interested me to see any woman content to be so uninteresting, and I wanted to find out the secret of her content.”

Culwin gets swept up in a rash, youthful wave of emotion and pledges himself to this creature, almost immediately realizing his mistake. He agonizes over his situation and it is during this period that he is plagued by the eyes. Unable to think of a way to back out of his “commitment,” he flees.

Years later, in Europe, he encounters a young man who carries with him a letter of introduction from this same cousin, beseeching Culwin to help the young man in his aspirations to become a man of letters. Culwin has always felt a pang of guilt regarding his mistreatment for Alice so is happy to do so as a small way of making amends. The youth, however, while clearly clever, is also clearly without a talent for the arts. Culwin doesn’t have the heart to tell him, though, and ends up stringing him along long past reason. It is at this point the eyes make a repeat appearance.

As ghost stories go this one was not particularly chill inducing for me. I loved Wharton’s writing, though, and the character of Culwin – and the way he looked at things – was quite interesting. It also got me thinking about what story I could/would come up with if I were in a circle of friends and charged with producing a “persoanl” ghost story (I do have a couple, one of which I once blogged about). Would you be able to come up with a story? Have you ever been in a group that exchanged ghost stories like that, or is it a thing of a bygone era?

Below: Edith Wharton

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Deal Me In Week 7 Wrap-Up

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Greetings all! A great week of reading for me here, figuratively snowed in and not motivated too much to go out so it’s option B – stay home and read! Below are links to everyone’s stories that I found since our update last Sunday. Make sure to pop over to your fellow DMI participants’ blogs and see what they’ve shared with us this week.

Dale at Mirror With Clouds ( http://mirrorwithclouds.wordpress.com/ ) reads his 2nd Edith Wharton story in a row, “The House of the Dead Hand” http://mirrorwithclouds.wordpress.com/2014/02/13/edith-whartons-the-house-of-the-dead-hand/

Two weeks, two Edith Wharton (below) stories for Dale.  That’s one per dog. 🙂

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Returning Reader ( http://returningreader.wordpress.com/ )drew the ace of hearts and read Liam O’Flaherty’s “The Sniperhttp://returningreader.wordpress.com/2014/02/11/short-story-7-the-sniper-liam-oflaherty/

Katherine at The Writerly Reader ( http://katenread.wordpress.com/ ) is taken away to Montana in Eric van Lustbader’s “The Singing Tree.” http://katenread.wordpress.com/2014/02/15/deal-me-in-week-7-the-singing-tree/. (Her post includes a great clip of a Penn & Teller “magic trick” too)

We also have a couple stories from Candiss at Read the Gamut (http://readthegamut.wordpress.com/)  –  Haruki Murakami’s “Samsa in Love” and Sherman Alexie’s “Saint Junior” http://readthegamut.wordpress.com/2014/02/16/deal-me-in-challenge-stories-6-and-7/

Hanne of Reading on Cloud 9 brings us her four of clubs, Lorrie Moore’s “Referential” – another story from the pages of The New Yorker. http://readingoncloud9.wordpress.com/2014/02/16/week-7-referential-by-lorrie-moore/

For my part, I drew the Queen of Diamonds which led me to Glen Hirshberg’s creepy ghost story, “The Two Sams.” https://bibliophilica.wordpress.com/2014/02/16/the-two-sams-by-glen-hirshberg/

And as a DMI ’extra’ I read Donald Hall’s short story “Argument and Persuasion” for a local discussion group. It presents an interesting question that I’ve shared with my readers. If you have time and would like to play along, it’s at https://bibliophilica.wordpress.com/2014/02/13/argument-and-persuasion-by-donald-hall-who-would-you-pick/

Happy reading & see you next week!